The Lightning Thief
|The Lightning Thief|
|Country||United States of America|
|Series||Percy Jackson & the Olympians (Book 1)|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy Fiction and Adventure|
|Publication date||July 1, 2005 (hardcover)
April 1, 2006 (paperback)
|Media type||Print (hardback, paperback), audiobook CD|
|Followed by||The Sea of Monsters|
The Lightning Thief is a 2005 fantasy-adventure novel based on Greek mythology, the first young adult novel written by Rick Riordan. It is the first novel in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, which charts the adventures of modern-day twelve-year-old Percy Jackson as he discovers he is a demigod, the son of a mortal woman and the Greek god Poseidon. Percy and his friends go on a quest to prevent a war between the gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.
The Lightning Thief was sold at auction to Miramax Books and published in June, 2005. The book has sold over 1.2 million copies in the subsequent four years, appearing on The New York Times children's Best Seller list and being listed as one of the Young Adult Library Services Association's Best Books for Young Adults, among other awards. It was adapted into a film named Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief which was released in the United States on February 12, 2010. The sequel to this novel is The Sea of Monsters.
"You shall go west and face the god who has turned
you shall find what was stolen and see it safely returned
you shall be betrayed by the one who calls you a friend
and fail to save what matters most in the end"
Percy Jackson is a twelve-year-old boy with dyslexia and ADHD, who has been expelled from every school he has ever attended. When his class takes a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, his pre-algebra teacher Mrs. Dodds transforms into a Fury and attacks him. Percy's Latin teacher Mr. Brunner throws Percy a magic sword named Anaklusmos or the English translation, Riptide, and sends Mrs. Dodds to Tartarus.
When Percy and his mother go to Montauk, his friend Grover Underwood comes to tell them to leave immediately. They drive away in a horrible storm, and a Minotaur takes Percy's mother in a blinding flash of light. In anger, Percy kills the Minotaur and takes one of its horns. He wakes up three days later, healed by nectar and ambrosia, at Camp Half-Blood. Grover reveals himself to be a satyr, and Mr. Brunner reveals himself to be Chiron the centaur. As nobody knows whose son Percy is, he is placed in the Hermes, the god of messengers, travelers, and thieves, cabin. After several water-related incidents, a trident mark appears above Percy's head, his father Poseidon claiming him.
The Oracle tells Percy to find the stolen master lightning bolt of Zeus, as well as with his friend Grover and Annabeth Chase, a daughter of Athena because the god Zeus thinks that Percy is to blame for stealing the lightning bolt. After defeating several monsters including Medusa herself, they find Hades, who took Percy's mother. Apparently, his helm of darkness (his symbol of power) seems to have been lost too. Hades also blames Percy for stealing his helm and wants to kill Percy and his mother and release all the dead back into the real world. They use magical pearls, a gift from a Neried, to save themselves from Hades and discover that Ares has the bolt. Percy challenges Ares to a duel and wins. Lord Hades realizes that Percy did not steal his helm of darkness, so he returns Percy's mother safely.
After the bolt is given back to Zeus, Percy's friend Luke Castellan is revealed to be the lightning thief and the number one servant of the Lord of the Titans, Kronos. Luke tries to kill Percy by calling on a scorpion, but luckily Percy manages to kill it. Unfortunately, Luke had gotten away. The story ends with Percy deciding to spend the school year with his mother.
Development and publication
Development for both The Lightning Thief and the Percy Jackson series began when Riordan began making stories for his son Haley who had been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. His son had been studying Greek mythology in second grade and asked that his father come up with bedtime stories based on Greek myths. Riordan had been a Greek mythology teacher in middle school for many years and was able to remember enough stories to please his son. Soon Riordan ran out of myths and his son requested that Riordan make new ones using the characters from Greek myths while adding some new ones. Riordan created the fictional character Percy Jackson and his travels across the United States to recover Zeus's lightning bolt. After Riordan finished telling the story his son asked that his dad write a book based on Percy's adventures.
While he gave his manuscript to his agent and editor to review, Riordan took his book to a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to read and give their critique. Ultimately he gained their approval and, with their help came up with the name of the book and created the way Percy's sword worked. In 2004 the book was sold to Miramax Books for enough money that Riordan could quit his job to focus on writing. After it was released on July 28, 2005, it sold over 1.2 million copies. The book was released in multiple versions including hardcover, paperback, and audio editions and has been translated into multiple languages and published all over the world.
The Lightning Thief received mostly positive reviews. Common Sense Media said "there are two levels of fun in The Lightning Thief. One is the fast-paced quest of a young hero and his friends to save the world" and added "another level of fun here – laughing at the wicked ways the author has updated the gods and monsters for the 21st century". However, it did criticize some aspects of the book describing the prose as "choppy and attitude-filled" and complaining that "[t]he characters aren't emotionally involving". Its overall rating was 4 stars out of 5. The New York Times praised The Lightning Thief as "perfectly paced, with electrifying moments chasing each other like heartbeats". School Library Journal said in its starred review that the book was "[a]n adventure-quest with a hip edge" and that "[r]eaders will be eager to follow the young protagonist's next move". Kirkus praised the book, "The sardonic tone of the narrator's voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty." Eoin Colfer, author of Artemis Fowl called it "A fantastic blend of myth and modern". Publishers Weekly also praised the book, regarding it as "swift and humorous" and added that the book would "leave many readers eager for the next installment." On April 8, 2007, The Lightning Thief was ranked ninth on The New York Times Best Seller list for children's books. When speaking about the various awards, Rick Riordan said: "The ultimate compliment for a children's writer is when the kids like it."
The Lightning Thief was the winner of the School Library Journal Best Book of 2005 as well one of the books in the Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books List, 2005. It was also in the VOYA Top Shelf Fiction List and was the winner of the Red House Children's Book Award Winner (UK), 2006; Askews Torchlight Award (UK), 2006; and the Mark Twain Award (Missouri Association of School Librarians), 2008. It was an American Library Association Notable Book, 2006 and a New York Times Notable Book (2005). It received the Young Reader's Choice Award in 2008 and the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award in 2009. Scholastic Parent & Child magazine also included the novel within its 100 "Greatest Books for Kids."
In June 2004, 20th Century Fox acquired the feature film rights to the book. In April 2007 director Chris Columbus was hired to helm the project. Logan Lerman is Percy Jackson and Brandon T. Jackson is Grover Underwood, the satyr. Alexandra Daddario plays Annabeth while Jake Abel was cast as Luke Castellan. Pierce Brosnan plays Chiron. The film is titled Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and was released in the United States on February 12, 2010.
Kirkus magazine said, "the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty". AudioFile Magazine praised the audiobook, "adults and children alike will be spellbound as they listen to this deeply imaginative tale unfold." School Library Journal both praised and criticized the audio book saying "Although some of Jesse Bernstein's accents fail (the monster from Georgia, for instance, has no Southern trace in her voice), he does a fine job of keeping the main character's tones and accents distinguishable". There is no chimera, prophecy, or the theft of the Helm of Darkness.
The Lightning Thief is followed by The Sea of Monsters in which Percy and Annabeth rescue Grover who has been imprisoned by Polyphemus, the Cyclops, and recover the Golden Fleece to save the camp. They are accompanied by Percy's half brother, Tyson and Clarisse in this mission.
Like The Lightning Thief it won several prizes and received generally positive reviews as well. It sold over 100,000 copies in paperback. It was followed by The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian as well as a new series, The Heroes of Olympus.
Foreign language editions
The Lightning Thief was published in Chinese, Turkish, Croatian, Czech, Finnish, French, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Indonesian, Serbian, and Spanish. The French edition was known as Le voleur de foudre (OCLC 319924908). The German name of the book was Diebe im Olymp (OCLC 254901802). These two, along with the Spanish version El ladrón del rayo (OCLC 74884882), were published in 2006. The other translations of the book Salamavaras (OCLC 231203516) in Finnish, Os Ladrões do Olimpo (The thieves of Olympus) in Portuguese, O ladrão de raios, in Chinese, "波西傑克森：神火之賊", and פרסי ג׳קסון וגנב הברק. or Persi G'eḳson ṿe-ganav ha-baraḳ (OCLC 243824272) in Hebrew were published in 2008. In Serbia it is called Kradljivac munje, while in Croatia it is called Percy Jackson i Olimpijci: Kradljivac gromova. De bliksemdief, a Dutch translation, and also a Turkish translation Şimşek Hırsızı was released in 2009. The Icelandic publisher Odinseye plans to release The Lightning Thief in 2012. It is on sale in Taiwan, being published by Yuan Liou Publishing.
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